Extreme Pro-Abortion Report Advances to a Vote at European Parliament
Thursday, May 27, 2021

The European Parliament is set to vote on a resolution on a radical report that recognizes a "right to abortion" and calls on EU Member States to change laws to allow access to abortion—an action that not only conflicts with EU law but has no basis in international law. As recently as this past March when responding to a question about pro-life policies in Poland, the European Commission acknowledged:

“Legislative powers on sexual and reproductive health and rights, including abortion, lie with the Member States that are also responsible for the definition of health policy.”

Despite the blatant contradiction with EU law, the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) approved the resolution by Croatian MEP Perdrag Matić <Titre>on the situation of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU, in the frame of women’s health</Titre> by 27 votes in favor, 6 against and 1 abstention. FEMM’s press release— EU countries should ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health—lists “Guarantee access to safe and legal abortion” as the first highlight of the report and second to “Remove all barriers impeding full access to sexual and reproductive health services.” Translation—EU countries must rescind laws protecting unborn children and their mothers from the violence of abortion.

Rapporteur Matićsaid: ‘‘In the text adopted today, we clearly call on member states to ensure universal access to SRHR for all, and demonstrate there is strength in the EP to counter those opposing basic human rights. Sexuality education, access to contraception and fertility treatments as well as abortion constitute some of the key components of SRHR services.”

Pro-life advocacy and support in Europe and in developing countries has radical MEPs worried who label it a “backlash”, this appears to be the main rational for the resolution. The Matić report states that it “comes at a crucial moment in the EU, with backlash and regression in women’s rights gaining momentum and contributing to the erosion of acquired rights and endangering the health of women.”

It continues, “What worries and urges a strong response from the EU is the evident backlash in women’s rights, with the right to a safe and legal abortion being one of the key targets in these attacks.”

Prioritization of the abortion agenda is pervasive in the report which is critical of common-sense abortion regulations stating, “whereas even when abortion is legally available, there are often a range of legal, quasi-legal and informal barriers to accessing it, including limited time periods and the grounds on which to access abortion; medically unwarranted waiting periods; a lack of trained and willing healthcare professionals; and the denial of medical care based on personal beliefs, biased and mandatory counselling, deliberate misinformation or third-party authorisation, medically unnecessary tests, distress requirements, the costs involved and the lack of their reimbursement.”

The European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) explains the illegality of the report stating, “The lack of competence of the Union to take such action had already led to the rejection by the European Parliament of the Estrela report, presented in 2013 and sadly identical to the current draft resolution. The European Parliament's resolution clearly stated that ‘it is a competence of the Member States to formulate and implement policies on health and on education.”

ECLJ delves into the intent behind the resolution stating that “although the resolutions of the European Parliament have no binding legal value, they are the expression of an opinion that the Parliament wishes to make known. A resolution may subsequently serve to politically legitimise action by the Member States or the institutions; it is intended to produce practical effects. More importantly, it can express a pre-legislative intention that can later be used to justify binding acts.”

The targeting of conscience is one area that ECLJ explores, “According to the draft resolution, the possibility for medical personnel to refuse an activity considered incompatible with their religious, moral, philosophical or ethical convictions should be prohibited. The draft resolution even considers that this attitude should be treated as a refusal of medical care. Yet the right to freedom of conscience is expressly guaranteed by international and European law in Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights respectively.”

The Committee on Development added its opinion to the report seeking access to abortion in developing countries and criticizing pro-life opposition writing about “the worrying backlash on women’s rights over their bodies both in developing countries and the EU”.

It requested that a recommendation to African countries to fully implement the abortion article of the Maputo Protocol be included and sought the condemnation any “violations of SRHR” including failure to provide access to legal abortion.

The interconnectedness of the report and radical pro-abortion organizations is evident. The report includes citing three reports by International Planned Parenthood, reference to data from the Center for Reproductive Rights, and to a so-called “investigation” by Open Democracy which attempted to discredit the work of pro-life pregnancy centers in Latin America.

Open Democracy was also involved in an attempt by pro-abortion MEPs to discredit pro-life groups in Europe presenting the targeted groups as part of a Christian-conservative plot against the values of the European Union. According to ECLJ,  “The aim of this presentation was to discredit pro-life organisations, to question their legitimacy and to exclude them from the democratic debate.”

The report is problematically comprehensive, linking to numerous EU programs and calling on various EU commissioners to support actions by pro-abortion organizations in development cooperation policies. It states, “Stresses that it is essential to ensure that development cooperation policy involves civil society organisations which are directly involved in the defence of SRHR in developing countries.”

The Minority Opinion by Margarita de la Pisa Carrión and Jadwiga Wiśniewska reveals that 154 amendments were rejected that “tried to defend the dignity of women in absolute respect for Life and natural law as the foundation and guarantee of the exercise of their own freedom and human rights.”

The rejected amendments can be found here and here.

The European Parliament is expected to vote on the resolution during its next plenary session in Strasbourg June 7-10.